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Margaret O’Regan – Uganda

19 Dec 2018

New Elder-care Facility Brings Happiness to Elders’ Lives

They sing, they dance, they don’t want to go home!

 

Update from Margaret O’Regan in Fort Portal, Uganda

 

I feel there are so many stories in eight weeks about my experiences here, I don’t know where to start. First and foremost I must say I am enjoying my placement and find it both rewarding and exhilarating and feel so privileged to be a witness to the enormous challenges of peoples lives. 

That is not to say I am not fit to pull my hair out at times! Primarily at the confusion that can arise over meeting times, date of meeting, plan for the day, having enough fuel in the car, having enough airtime!!!!! The list is endless but I have learnt to take a deep breath and remember the moral of Chicken Licken and that despite the fluster, the sky didn’t actually fall down! 

I have had no great challenges in adapting. I was well prepared both by the VC Venture course and the long deliberation I took before taking up this post. In addition, I was fortunate to have my VC colleague, Brian Lynch carry out extensive research on the project I am assigned to; thereby, not only creating a sensitisation amongst the project recipients  i.e. the elders in Fort Portal, Uganda, but also sensitising the project team to the aims of the project. 

I know it is no news to you reading this that the poverty amongst the community and especially the elders is immense. At times, I find the level of it overwhelming. There are stories of tragedy, after tragedy; such as death of all nine children, death of grandchildren, land grabbing, sexual exploitation, accusations of witchcraft, police called by neighbours after a grandchild’s funeral accusing the elder (grandmother who reared the child) of child sacrifice and demanding the body to be exhumed; and that is all in one person’s life. The frequency of these kind of stories, combined with extreme poverty is astounding. To see the graves of adult children as mounds of earth in the gardens outside the mud houses, to see the tears of women as they speak in Rotorra, to feel the bones on the shoulders of their emaciated bodies….that is what leaves me speechless. Words somehow cannot express the enormity of it.  

Least these expressions cause you to worry that I might be traumatised, I want to reassure you I am OK. In the midst of such suffering there is also joy and the good news is that the elder care project IS bringing happiness to elders’ lives. I know it is early days, and that I am again referring to poultry (it must be my agricultural background)! but I am slow to count my chickens before they are hatched. However, thus far the day centres have been a great success. 

Hati (now), to explain the day centres. These are loosely based on what a day centre for the elderly in Ireland might look like. We are in the process of setting them up in each of the three divisions in the municipality of Fort Portal. Two divisions are up and running and the third is planned. Apart from the Faulty Towers approach to organisation at the first event in the East division, it still turned out to be successful, with a turn out of 56 elders (our aim was 50). The second day centre gathering (West division) attracted a similar size crowd and was better organised. 

What was really impressive and satisfying was that, when we ran the 2nd day centre gathering in the East division, the vast majority who were at the previous “Faulty Towers” session were present again for the following month’s gathering. In addition, this gathering was better organised in terms of the talk given on human rights and the way the group was subdivided into smaller groups for discussions. The best part however, was that on the second day in the East, the elders did not want to go home! This was in contrast to the first day when they left for home almost two hours before we expected. On the second day the majority of the elders got involved in the singing, dancing and playing drums. Even men, who were barely able to walk, were standing and moving rhythmically to the wonderful, African music. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to see the smile on some of those faces, some who surely have not smiled for years. 

Also, care-giver training is up and running and so far, so good; albeit, it is rather costly and the budget for this section needs to be closely monitored so that it doesn’t compromise the operation of the core element, i.e. the day centres. Team members and I have taken part in radio shows and Fr Paschal and I attend the Toro Elders Forum to highlight the project and increase awareness of elders needs. Networking is ongoing and the team and I have several more ideas on how to advocate for the recipients of this project. 

Click the link below to enjoy these photographs, which have been taken with the consent of those in the pictures. In many ways pictures say more than words can ever do.

https://viatoreschristi-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/p/communications/EajHIZgQHKhIrzD3N0slxpkBoDfEA9ZkRN7kK7_j9CH-uA?e=fS9Qpe

 

Breda Sammon – Haiti

19 Dec 2018

Always a Warm Welcome for New Volunteers

 

Breda Sammon from Co. Tipperary is currently volunteering in North West Haiti, in Jean Rabel. Her latest report explained how with the help of Foi et Joi she has managed to deck out the newly dedicated computer room in Colette school with 16 computers using N Computing. A further 16 computers are earmarked for another school in Acadien. These will be in situ once the new IT classroom at the school is built.

Here’s a sample of ‘A Day in the Life of a Volunteer’ living and working with RJMs in Jean Rabel, NW Haiti.

  • Up for Mass (Sometimes)
  • Breakfast
  • Work = Training, Creating Manuals, Sourcing Equipment
  • Dinner
  • Siesta (love this part of the day)
  • Training or Creole Classes
  • Prayers
  • Evening Meal
  • Social Time – A Film or Cards 

Breda lives with a number of Spanish Sisters and Sr Rose from Ireland. The Sisters are members of the Religious Sisters of Jesus and Mary, RJM; some of them have been working in Haiti for 20 years, building capacity in healthcare and education. The congregation shared its two hundredth year anniversary in 2018.

Since the installation of computers in the local schools set up by Castlebar RJM Sister, Sr. Rose, progress has begun in bringing technology to this remote area, with the aim of increasing opportunities for what can only be described as a ‘forgotten’ people. Lack of infrastructure and amenities in this area of the North West of Haiti has meant that without the presence of missionary groups such as the RJMs, the people living locally would remain on the margins of Haitian society, as little governance from the capital of Port-au-Prince impacts them, as they eke out the semblance of a living from the land.

 

 

 

Philip Donnelly – Haiti

18th Dec 2018

 

Philip Donnelly, on assignment with Gena Heraty in the NPH Kendscoff Orphanage in Haiti sent us an update:

For the first six weeks of my assignment, I was based solely in Kay Christine where I addressed the serious condensation problem which was causing mould growth. I stripped and repaired all walls, installed fans in the kitchen, bathrooms and dining areas, and installed air vents in bedrooms.

I then repaired and fully restored 30 tables and chairs (which would be thrown out, if in Ireland)!

A consignment of hospital wardrobes came via Espwa from Ireland and I repaired, customised and installed these in the children’s rooms.

I also repaired/replaced drainpipes around the residences which were incorrectly installed in the first place, causing issues.

The Espwa team from Ireland visited for 2 weeks in October and we constructed 3 extensions on to the children’s residences.  I’m now taking on the second fix period for these and will complete all works.

I find Monday – Friday go fast but weekends can be lonely. I  time to go hiking or running on Saturdays.  I’m also teaching some children boxing and Espwa are going to supply kit for this. I also try to keep busy by taking 5 Creole lessons each week!

 

Annie Mc Mahon – Bolivia

18 Dec 2018
map bolivia

Annie Mc Mahon recently took up her post in Bolivia. She sent us on this update:

“Things are slightly tense this week in Bolivia as there has been a lot of corruption uncovered in the recent elections for a referendum and the people have been  protesting – peacefully I might add, all week. It’s very interesting to hear what is happening and the thoughts/fears of the people here.

Apart from this it is the end of the school year so I am currently getting the kids prepared for the summer break and being that teacher that gives homework over the holidays. I am also arranging times for some of the children to come to the clinic as well as having parent teacher meetings.

We have done 3 huge outreaches over the last few months; 2 in the jungle, where over 300 people attended in two and a half days; the other one, in the mining area of the country, where over 70 people attended. Great turn outs!

I will hopefully start a course soon to learn some Bolivian sign language. Apart from that it’s just typical end of school things, parties and parades etc.”

Annelies Baneke – Uganda

18th Dec 2018

Annelies with Rose coordinator

 

 

 ‘Two Months in Mityana, Uganda’ 

I’ve been living in Mityana, Uganda since August 2018, working within a diocesan education department. My assignment is nine months long and aims to establish an inspection programme for use across the 220 registered schools in Kiyinda-Mityana. 

When I arrived, research had been carried out by a previous VC development worker, inviting schools in the area to voice their priorities and provide input for inspection initiatives. This was a really helpful starting point and reflected the VC ethos of running development programs in response to local need and opinion. 

Since August, I have built on this research to create an inspection tool centred around school management, academic and co-curricular opportunities, facilities, and pupil welfare. Together with the Education Secretary and a former head teacher, I visit schools twice a week and write inspection reports; which allows us to pilot the tool and make necessary changes. 

In early 2019, we plan to hold a workshop for chaplains in the diocese, where those linked to education will receive training to inspect schools in their parishes. We will monitor these

inspections, and will make recommendations to local government based on the inspectors’ findings. 

Child protection has also become a key priority of the project. Whilst there are laws in place, a discourse on safeguarding is not present in most schools. One of my tasks has been to write a child protection policy. This focuses on alternative behaviour management to facilitate an end to corporal punishment, awareness and external reporting mechanisms for sexual abuse in schools, and the presence of trusted figures within schools with whom pupils can share concerns. In the coming months, the policy will be introduced to schools and we will begin to monitor its implementation. 

Before I came, I worked as a secondary school teacher in Cambridge and had also taught in France and Thailand, which has given me confidence in making recommendations from an international perspective. That said, the level of responsibility I have here has given me exposure to such a range of educational issues and has allowed me to challenge myself professionally in a way I wouldn’t have been able to in the UK. I am really grateful to VC and to the partner in Mityana for all these opportunities. 

Outside of work, I’m living in a house on the office compound and sharing meals with the priests who work in administrative roles for the diocese. I didn’t quite know what to expect before I arrived, but the priests’ cheer and wonderful humour has been one of the best parts of living here in Mityana. With some, I have had interesting discussions about differences in belief and these co-exist respectfully: I have not felt pressured in this regard. I have been to two Mass services in the compound chapels, to a wedding, and to other services as part of school ceremonies. These are often lively occasions with dancing and beautiful music. 

Apart from compound life, I’ve been enjoying runs and have just about made it through the altitude barrier! I’ve met others who have recently moved to Mityana, who, alongside the priests, have led the path of discovery to Ugandan lager. Family and friends have also booked to come and visit so I’m looking forward to some trips around Uganda next year – hopefully featuring safari, gorilla tracking, and seeing the Nile at Murchison Falls. 

Annelies' office

There have been some definite lifestyle changes during this time. A thirty-minute cycle has been replaced by a thirty second walk to the office, my neighbour the history professor replaced by a herd of cows, and plantain trees stand in for my old classroom view of the canteen queue.

I’ve even temporarily betrayed my dog loyalty to adopt a kitten that the priests gave me!

It’s been two months of new experiences to which I have been so warmly welcomed: all this has made for a very happy time here so far.

 

 

Join our Training for Development Course this Spring

Venture Training For Development 

Module Dates
Global Awareness, Health 9-10 February 2019
Community Development and Leadership 9 -10 March 2019
Project Cycle Management, Monitoring & Evaluation 13-14 April 2019
Cultural Adaptation, Challenge & Conflict, Research Methodologies (New module) Please note some modules including Research Methodologies have an online component using Moodle. 11-12 May 2019

Please register for the course here

About

VC offers an excellent training programme called Venture, delivered twice a year which aims to prepare prospective development workers, missionaries or volunteers for working and living in a developing country.

The programme is conducted over four intensive weekends between February and May and September and December each year. While providing a grounding in practical overseas development it will help participants to discern if a long term volunteer commitment is for them.  It is vitally important that development workers, missionaries or volunteers are well prepared; this helps ensure that they can remain committed to the challenges of living and working overseas.

The programme is delivered by facilitators who are experts in the sector.

“What I am very favourably impressed by is not only the specific training programme but the general atmosphere created by the VC staff and volunteers during the various occasions when I have been there; this atmosphere is probably even more important as a ‘training’ than the elements in the formal training programme.”  Donal Dorr –  Venture programme facilitator

Who can join

The VC Venture training programme is open to everyone, not just those wishing to be considered for a VC placement.  It is however, a prerequisite for our vacancies unless the volunteer has considerable previous overseas experience.  It offers people an opportunity to make an informed decision on whether overseas volunteering is for them.

Applicants from England and Wales are very welcome.

Content and delivery

Our course is entirely participatory – the idea is that all have something to bring to the table.

As well as good basic grounding on the development sector it also offers participants an insight into working with and within the faith-based sector. VC also strongly encourages participants to become involved in voluntary work at home as a practical learning addition to this course.

Fee

A course fee of €400 for the training is payable in advance. Meals and refreshments are included, accommodation is not included.

Click here to register

Boardroom for hire

Board room/training room for hire: The meeting room called VC Board Room Style at VC Venture Training Centre is located 500 metres from the Phibsborough Greenline Luas station and minutes from central Dublin. The centre is located in a wheelchair accessible ornate high ceiling double room in a beautiful Georgian building close to Phibsborough’s day car park. Centre has limited free on street parking. The venue can be configured for training and boardroom meetings. Book here

Venture Training For Development Autumn 2018

Venture Training For Development 

Module Dates
Global Awareness, Health 22-23 September 2018
Community Development and Leadership 13-14 October 2018
Project Cycle Management, Monitoring & Evaluation 10-11 November 2018 
Cultural Adaptation, Challenge & Conflict, Research Methodologies (New module) Please note some modules including Research Methodologies have an online component using Moodle. 8/9 December 2018

Please register for the course here

About

VC offers an excellent training programme called Venture, delivered twice a year which aims to prepare prospective development workers, missionaries or volunteers for working and living in a developing country.

The programme is conducted over four intensive weekends between February and May and September and December each year. While providing a grounding in practical overseas development it will help participants to discern if a long term volunteer commitment is for them.  It is vitally important that development workers, missionaries or volunteers are well prepared; this helps ensure that they can remain committed to the challenges of living and working overseas.

The programme is delivered by facilitators who are experts in the sector.

“What I am very favourably impressed by is not only the specific training programme but the general atmosphere created by the VC staff and volunteers during the various occasions when I have been there; this atmosphere is probably even more important as a ‘training’ than the elements in the formal training programme.”  Donal Dorr –  Venture programme facilitator

Who can join

The VC Venture training programme is open to everyone, not just those wishing to be considered for a VC placement.  It is however, a prerequisite for our vacancies unless the volunteer has considerable previous overseas experience.  It offers people an opportunity to make an informed decision on whether overseas volunteering is for them.

Applicants from England and Wales are very welcome as part of  VCs commitment to its membership of the Catholic Missionary Union.

Content and delivery

Our course is entirely participatory – the idea is that all have something to bring to the table.

As well as good basic grounding on the development sector it also offers participants an insight into working with and within the faith-based sector. VC also strongly encourages participants to become involved in voluntary work at home as a practical learning addition to this course.

Fee

A course fee of €400 for the training is payable in advance. Meals and refreshments are included, accommodation is not included.

Click here to register

Last Chance to Win a Holiday!

Last Chance to Win a Holiday Worth €5,000 in the VC Members Draw!

To be in with a chance please buy a ticket for €20!

Many thanks to all who have bought tickets already for all our VC Draws.  The final draw will take place on Thursday 26th July 2018…this is the big one with a holiday worth €5,000 (or the cash equivalent) plus other smaller prizes of €1,000, €500, €250, €200, €150, and €100.

VC has had 6 winners to date in the first two draws as follows:

May Draw    

€3,000 – Elsa, Mel and Susie Roddy     

€1,000 – Vincent Slattery    

€150 – Terry O’Driscoll

June Draw   

€500 – Michael Mullin  

€100- Ríona Kelly 

€100 – John Walsh

Who knows?  Your name might be up there after the next draw!!!

1st Prize July – A hoiday worth €5000!!!!

Cash Prizes!:

2nd Prize – €1000  3rd Prize €500   4th Prize €250  

5th Prize €200       6th Prize €150      7th Prize €100

 

TICKETS COST €20 

 TO ENTER: There are several easy ways to purchase a ticket!

  • Give us a call at 01 8689986 or email info@viatoreschristi.com
  • Pay in cash – call to our office 8 New Cabra Road, Phibsboro, Dublin
  • Post us a cheque (made payable to Viatores Christi)
  • Pay for your tickets by electronic transfer to our bank: Bank of Ireland, College Green, D2,

               BIC: BOFIIE2D, Account No. 38239797, Sort Code 90-00-17

              IBAN: IE34 BOFI 9000 1738 2397 97 – (remember to mention DRAW)

  • Or buy your tickets online!

Buy 1 X €20 ticket to be in with a chance to win in the July Draw!
Buy 2 X €20 tickets (€40) to be in with a chance to win in the July Draw!
Buy 3 X €20 tickets (€60) to be in with a chance to win in the July Draw!
Buy 4  X €20 tickets to be in with a chance to win in the July Draw!  

 

 Please note: To save on postage we are not posting out receipts to those who bought tickets but if you would like an emailed receipt please let us know! 

 

Invitation to Tender – Strategic Plan at VC

Viatores Christi (VC) wishes to engage a consultant to facilitate development of its 2019 – 2024 strategic plan (including a review of the previous plan) 

VC is an Irish-based organisation supporting and working within the faith-based international development sector. Established as a Lay Missionary Association, under the Catholic Church in Ireland in 1960, today, VC works with over 30 partners across a wide range of sectors in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. VC works with its partners to identify and address clearly defined needs ensuring that the root causes of poverty within communities are addressed, and real and sustainable futures sought for the projects’ beneficiaries. VC addresses these needs through clearly defined development interventions and when needed through the recruitment, training and placement of highly-skilled long-term volunteer development workers.

The overall objective of this consultancy is to develop a five year Strategic Plan 2019-24 to guide VC in fulfilling its mission.

The scope and focus of the consultancy are to provide technical, strategic and facilitation support to enable the development of a renewed strategic plan for VC for the 2019 -2024 period.  Under the overall supervision of VC CEO, who in turn reports to VC’s Council (board of directors), the consultant will be tasked to work in a participatory way with all stakeholders.

Please download full terms of reference here

All applications should be submitted to by email to info@viatoreschristi.com indicating the following reference “Consultant for Strategic Planning of VC” by Friday 4th May 2018